Sunday, February 22, 2015
A fascinating piece of WWII history. The Japanese pre-surrender meetingThis was overshadowed by the Tokyo Bay surrender ceremony a few weeks later. But what rare photos (and some personal descriptions of that event). Interesting photos of the preparation of Surrender of Japan in August 1945.(Officially signed on the USS Missouri in the Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945). A delegation of Japanese Representatives flew to an American Base close to Okinawa. The Japanese planes were requested to be painted in white and have the"Meatballs" replaced by a Green Cross. Really rare archives. Here are photographs of some of those Green Cross flights and Green Cross aircraft, starting with the most photographed of them all "The Green Cross Bettys of Iejima." Let the surrender begin. B-25J Mitchell bombers of the 345th Bomb Group (The Apaches) lead two Green Cross Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" medium bombers into the island of Iejima (called Ie Shima by the Americans). The 345th Bomb Group (the 498th, 499th, 500th and 501st Squadrons) was based on Iejima and was given the task and the very special honour of escorting the Bettys from Tokyo to the rendezvous with United States Army Air Force C-54s, which would take the Japanese officers and envoys on to Manila to meet with no less than Douglas MacArthur himself. Photo: USAF The two Bettys (ironically and deliberately given the call signs Bataan 1 and Bataan 2 by the Americans) fly low over the East China Sea, inbound for Iejima wearing their hastily painted white surrender scheme and green crosses. One can only imagine what is going on in the conflicted minds of the Japanese airmen as they fly over their own territory in the company of the hated enemy, headed for an event of profound humiliation in front of thousands of enemy soldiers. These two Bettys would become the most photographed Green Cross surrender aircraft of the end of the war. Photo: US Navy A photograph taken from the same 345th Bomb Group Mitchell that is depicted in the first photograph, looking back at another B-25 Mitchell and a B-17. Above, P-38 Lightnings provide top cover. The top cover was needed because some Japanese officials had ordered the remnants of the Japanese Army Air Force to attack and bring down their own bombers rather than surrender. Instead of flying directly to Iejima, the two Japanese planes flew northeast, toward the open ocean, to avoid their own fighters. Photo via warbirdinformationexchange.org The Betty was officially known as the"Type-1 land-based attack aircraft", but to its Japanese Navy crews, it was lovingly known as the Hamaki ( Cigar), the reason for which is obvious in this photograph (also because one could light it up fairly easily). The Betty was a good performer, but it was often employed in low level, slow-speed operations such as torpedo attacks and it had a tendency to explode into flames when hit by even light enemy fire, leading some unhappy pilots to call them the "Type One Lighter" or "The Flying Lighter". We can clearly see that the Betty's traditional armament: nose, tail, waist and dorsal guns, have been removed as demanded by the Americans. The B-17 in the distance is from 5th Air Force, 6th Emergency Rescue Squadron carrying a type A-1 lifeboat. The A-1 was dropped by parachute and was motorized. It seems that American authorities did not want to lose these men in the event of a ditching. Photo via warbirdinformationexchange.org As thousands of American soldiers, airmen, sailors, dignitaries and press photographers on the island of Iejima look to the sky, the two 345th Bomb Group B-25J Mitchells escort the two white Green Cross Bettys over the airfield before setting up for a landing. Photo: James Chastain, 36 Photo Recon Squadron As thousands of suspicious, curious and anxious young men look on, the Japanese pilot brings his Mitsubishi Betty down on to the bleached coral airfield of Iejima. Note the all-metal Douglas C-54 waiting for their arrival. Photo via Pinterest It is plainly obvious that in August of 1945, on the island if Iejima, it was brutally hot the day the Green Cross Bettys landed. Here one of the two aircraft drops on to the runway as soldiers, the formal welcoming committee and pressmen wait, finding shade where they could. Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center The second of the twoGreen Cross Bettys makes its final approach while press photographers and reporters capture the long-awaited moment. Photo: James Chastain, 36 Photo Recon Squadron As the second Betty alights on the coral airstrip, every eye on the island is trained on them. One cannot even imagine what this scene looked like to these Japanese as they looked out from the aircraft windows at a sea of mistrust and a new, grim reality. Photo: James Chastain, 36 Photo Recon Squadron Another view taken farther back at Iejima shows the two massive and beautifully kept Douglas C-54 aircraft waiting for the passengers of the landing Betty. Image via wwiivehicles.com With its clamshell canopy open and her Captain standing up to direct his co-pilot through the crowd, the first Green Cross Betty to land at Iejima taxis past a seemingly endless line of enemy soldiers. The scene is one of abject humiliation and intimidation. That pilot must surely have felt the mistrust of the thousands of pairs of eyes burning as he rolled by. Photo: USAAF A close-up of the Betty taxiing along in front of the thousands of suspicious American servicemen. This had to be intimidating to the Japanese, especially to the lone pilot standing up and accepting the glares of all. Photo: USAAF I found the personal family memoirs of Army combat engineer Leigh Robertson on the web. Leigh was an eyewitness to the arrival on leshima of the Green Cross surrender aircraft. The following link to his memory of that day is perfect as he immediately wrote it down in a letter back home to his parents: Sunday, August 19th 1945 Dear Folks, I don't know how long it will be until I can mail this letter. I am writing it now, while things are fresh in my mind. I have just seen what is probably the most important event in the world today. It was the arrival of the Japanese envoys on their way to Manila, to sign the preliminary peace agreement with Gen. MacArthur. We had known for the last three days that they were going to land here. We expected them yesterday, but they were delayed, for some reason. We went to work this morning as usual, and worked until about ten. Then the word went around that the Japs were coming. We piled into trucks and drove up to the airstrip. We waited expectantly for over an hour. Finally, word went out once more that they would not arrive until 1:30 P.M, so we decided to come on back to camp and eat lunch (we had baked ham, by the way). Just before we left we watched two giant four engine transports (C-54s) circle the field and land. These were the planes that would take the Japs on to Manila . Just as I was leaving the mess hall, the news came over the radio that the Jap planes were circling the island, and sure enough, they were! I ran to my tent, put away my mess gear, grabbed my cap and climbed on a truck. It is about two miles to the airstrip, but we made pretty good time, because all the traffic was going the same way. As we came closer to the field, we became part of a strange procession. Directly in front and to the rear of us were two P-38s (twin engine fighter aircraft). Further on down the line there were tractors, motor graders, and in fact, most every kind of vehicle you can imagine--all loaded with G.I.s. We parked the truck about a quarter mile from the strip and ran the rest of the way. I got separated from the rest of the men, and stopped on a high spot about 75 yards from the strip. I had scarcely gotten settled when the planes started in for a landing. The planes themselves were Japanese "Betty" bombers, with two engines, bearing some resemblance to our B-26. They were painted white, with green crosses. It had been a hasty paint job -- you could still see the red of the rising sun showing through the white. Naturally, the planes had been stripped of all armament. They were escorted by two B-25s, and I don't know how many P-38s, probably a hundred or more. The latter continued to circle the field for an hour or more, until all the excitement was over. Both planes made perfect landings, rolled to the far end of the strip, turned and taxied back to our end. They parked right alongside the two large transports that had arrived earlier. They were dwarfed by comparison to our transports. We were not permitted within a hundred yards or so of the four airplanes. There were several hundred people gathered around the planes, most likely photographers and Air Corps officers. They pretty well hid from view the events of the next few minutes. I could see various people boarding the transport, but couldn't tell much about them. Presently they towed one of the Jap planes up a taxiway to a parking area close to where I was sitting. One of our boys pulled his truck right up to the fence, and raised the dump bed. This gave us a grandstand seat, about 15 feet off the ground. When the plane came to rest, the crew started climbing out. There were five in all, dressed in heavy flying clothes. There were two jeeps waiting to take them away. Evidently they didn't speak English, for there was much waving of hands and shrugging of shoulders. About this time two or three thousand soldiers broke through the ring of guards and started for the Japs. They didn't have any bad intentions, just curiosity, and wanting to take pictures. I know that if I had been in the place of those Japs, I would have been just a wee bit scared! At any rate, they lost no time in getting into the Jeeps and away from the mob! Finally, they managed to get the crowd back far enough to bring the other"Betty" over to the parking area. After a few minutes one of the C-47s(edit C-54s?) warmed up its engines and taxied onto the strip. With a mighty roar, she started down the runway. Before she got halfway down the runway, she was in the air, on her way to Manila. It was a great show, and one I don't think I shall ever forget, for it is part of the last chapter of this war that has caused so many hardships, and so many heartbreaks. Thank God it is all over. I wish that you would save this letter for me, or make a copy of it. What I saw today is one of the few things that I have seen, or will see, while I'm in this army that will be worth remembering. Just as soon as I find out from the censor that it is O.K., I'll mail this. You will probably have read about it in the newspapers, and seen it in the newsreel, but this may give you a little different slant on it. I sure do think of you folks a lot. Maybe it won't be too long now till I can be back with all of you again. I want to write to Barbara tonight, so I'll end this now. Love, Leigh The captain of the second Mitsubishi Betty also stands up to direct his co-pilot through the crowds waiting and watching. We can tell this is a different Betty as the previous one has a window panel just behind the nose glazing under the chin of the aircraft. This one does not have that particular window pane. Photo: Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron With his twin Kasei 14-cylinder engines thundering, the Japanese pilot guides the Betty through the crowded taxi strip. Photo: Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron Guiding his co-pilot from his perch above the Betty, the commander of the second Green Cross Betty commands him to swing round into position near the awaiting C-54 transports of the Americans. In doing so he blasts the crowd of American sailors and airmen. We can see in this photo that all of the men in the background have their backs turned against the dust storm. Perhaps this was the one satisfying moment for the Japanese crews in this most humiliating of days. Photo: Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron One of the two Bettys comes to a stop across from the waiting Douglas C-54 aircraft that will take the envoys to Manila . Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center The second Green Cross Betty to land at Iejima begins to unload its passengers and crew, while American soldiers crowd around. The distinguishing features that help us tell this Betty from the other are the different glazing panels on the nose and the fact that this does not have the Radio Direction Finding (RDF) loop antenna on the top of the fuselage. Photo vialeighrobertson.net The two Green Cross aircraft are stared at by thousands of American soldiers, who watch from the gullies surrounding the airstrip, hoping to get a close look at the once hated, now defeated, Japanese airmen. Note the RDF loop antenna at the top of the fuselage. Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center American soldiers and airmen, in daily working gear, gawk at the once-hated Mitsubishi G4M Betty painted white like a flag of surrender and no longer wearing her proud red rising sun roundels known as the Hinomaru. Instead they are required to wear green crosses -- Christian symbols if there ever were any. With her RDF loop, this is clearly the first of the two Bettys. Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center Moments after the second all-white Betty shuts down on the leshima ramp in the blistering sun, she is surrounded by airmen and plenty of Military Police (MPs). While some of the Japanese stand on the ground, a young airman steps out of the doorway carrying two large bouquets of flowers as a peace offering to the American delegation. The offer of the flowers was rejected by the Americans who felt that it was too soon to make nice with the once haughty Japanese who had treated Allied POWs so roughly. It would be like Auschwitz survivors accepting flowers from the SS, but you have to feel sorry for the young man bearing the gift. Photo viawarbirdinformationexchange.org Looking more than a little worried and even terrified, the young Japanese soldiers look about them to see only angry, disdainful faces. The soldier on the left is the one who has just had his gift of flowers rejected and is no doubt looking for a place to hide. Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center Japanese officers and leaders, with a mandate to negotiate their surrender, cross from their Mitsubishi Betty to awaiting C-54 aircraft which will take them to Manila . The truth is there were no negotiations. Surrender was unconditional. But they were there to accept the orders of surrender. The formal signing of the surrender would take place aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945 (two weeks later). Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center Formalities on the ground were quickly performed and within 20 minutes, the eight official commissioners were guided up a ladder into a massive Douglas C-54 transport aircraft, a luxurious accommodation when compared to the Japanese Bettys. They were then flown to Manila in the Philippines to meet with MacArthur. Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center After the Japanese delegates boarded the American C-54 Skymaster at Iejima, they were flown 1,500 kilometres over the South China Sea to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Here, we see General Douglas MacArthurwatching the arrival of the Japanese entourage from the balcony of the ruined Manila City Hall . Most of the city's fine old Spanish-style buildings were destroyed in the battle to retake the city from the Japanese in February and March of that year. Americans and Filipino citizens look on warily. More than 100,000 Manilans and 1,000 Americans were killed battling the Japanese, so this crowd would not be considered to be welcoming. Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center *****
Airplanes WW II
STATISTICAL DATA FROM WW II
Article, photo's and a thru tunnel video with guy on motorcycle.
WWII planes found in a West Texas Barn
Well, now and again there's the proverbial email that alerts you to one of those treasures that's hidden in a barn/hangar some-where, and this is one of them.
After you get done gawkin' and gawkin' some more, make sure you watch the movie at the end.Not just one treasure but loads of em. This man has enough WW II fighters to conduct his own Battle of Britain.
Subject: B-36 A flight engineer's dream. A pilot's nightmare.
It's too bad we can not see the B-36 fly today.
It is one big aircraft!
The next to last landing and the last take-off of the last operational B-36 took place at Scott AFB. The aircraft was being ferried to the AF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB when it developed an in-flight emergency and had to land at Scott AFB to effect repairs.
It was so heavy that it could NOT be parked on an apron as it would have cracked the concrete, so it was kept on the end of one of the runways (which had thicker concrete). It had to be moved around every couple of hours to prevent runway damage. When it departed the next stop was it's final landing at the Museum where it would become a display and never fly again.
The take-off was memorable: six piston engines roaring at full strength and the four jet engines screaming. Imagine 36 hour flights in this machine. The view is from one of the two flight engineer positions from their consoles. They took care of the 6 turning and burning with the engine controls in front of them (manifold pressure and throttles, the pilot has the four jet engine controls over his right shoulder. I'd love to have seen the start up procedure, looks like six fingers on all three hands were needed.
Called "The Peacemaker," the US Air Force B-36 served from late 1940's until the mid 1950's when the all- jet B-47 became the long-range nuclear weapon carrier.
The B-36 was a state of the art airplane in its day. The Flight Engineer was responsible for starting, maintaining and shutting down the 6 Radial Engines and 4 Jet Engines required to make it fly and to mission complete. No modern "Fly by Wire" or "Computer controlled Aircraft" involved here. Just straight old manpower, brainpower and the guts to get it done. Though some of its pilots thought it was a beast to fly, it DID help do the job of keeping the peace during the beginning of the Cold War.
This presentation is a 360 degree viewing movement by moving your mouse. It is a 360 degree panorama of the flight engineers station and cockpit on a B-36. Six propeller-driven R-4360s and four J-47 jets to keep an eye on, plus fuel, pressurization, hydraulics, electrical, and other systems.
Use your mouse to navigate the cockpit.
Use the mouse wheel for close-up or distance views
The Japanese Zero and how we learned to fight it.
In April 1942 thirty-six Zeros attacking a British naval base at Colombo ,Ceylon (now Sri Lanka ), were met by about sixty Royal Air Force aircraft of mixed types, many of them obsolete. Twenty-seven of the RAF planes went down: fifteen Hawker Hurricanes (of Battle of Britain fame), eight Fairey Swordfish, and four Fairey Fulmars. The Japanese lost one Zero. Five months after America 's entry into the war, the Zero was still a mystery to U.S. Navy pilots. On May 7, 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, fighter pilots from our aircraft carriers Lexington and Yorktown fought the Zero and didn't know what to call it. Some misidentified it as the German Messerschmitt 109. A few weeks later, on June 3 and 4, warplanes flew from the Japanese carriers Ryujo and Junyo to attack the American military base at Dutch Harbor in Alaska 's Aleutian archipelago. Japan's attack on Alaska was intended to draw remnants of the U.S. fleet north from Pearl Harbor, away from Midway Island, where the Japanese were setting a trap. (The scheme ultimately backfired when our Navy pilots sank four of Japan 's first-line aircraft carriers at Midway, giving the United States a major turning-point victory). In the raid of June 4, twenty bombers blasted oil storage tanks, a warehouse, a hospital, a hangar, and a beached freighter, while eleven Zeros strafed at will. Chief Petty Officer Makoto Endo led a three-plane Zero section from the Ryujo, whose other pilots were Flight Petty Officers Tsuguo Shikada and Tadayoshi Koga. Koga, a small nineteen-year old, was the son of a rural carpenter. His Zero, serial number 4593, was light gray, with the imperial rising-sun insignia on its wings and fuselage. It had left the Mitsubishi Nagoya aircraft factory on February 19, only three-and-a-half months earlier, so it was the latest design. Shortly before the bombs fell on Dutch Harbor that day, soldiers at an adjacent Army outpost had seen three Zeros shoot down a lumbering Catalina amphibian. As the plane began to sink, most of the seven-member crew climbed into a rubber raft and began paddling toward shore. The soldiers watched in horror as the Zeros strafed the crew until all were killed. The Zeros are believed to have been those of Endo, Shikada, and Koga. After massacring the Catalina crew, Endo led his section to Dutch Harbor, where it joined the other eight Zeros in strafing. It was then (according to Shikada, interviewed in 1984) that Koga's Zero was hit by ground fire. An Army intelligence team later reported, "Bullet holes entered the plane from both upper and lower sides". One of the bullets severed the return oil line between the oil cooler and the engine. As the engine continued to run, it pumped oil from the broken line. A Navy photo taken during the raid shows a Zero trailing what appears to be smoke. It is probably oil, and there is little doubt that this is Zero 4593. After the raid, as the enemy planes flew back toward their carriers, eight American Curtiss Warhawk P-40's shot down four VaI (Aichi D3A) dive bombers thirty miles west of Dutch Harbor. In the swirling, minutes-long dogfight, Lt. John J. Cape shot down a plane identified as a Zero. Another Zero was almost instantly on his tail. He climbed and rolled, trying to evade, but those were the wrong maneuvers to escape a Zero. The enemy fighter easily stayed with him, firing its two deadly 20-mm cannon and two 7.7-mm machine guns. Cape and his plane plunged into the sea. Another Zero shot up the P-40 of Lt. Winfield McIntyre, who survived a crash landing with a dead engine. Endo and Shikada accompanied Koga as he flew his oil-spewing airplane to Akutan Island , twenty-five miles away, which had been designated for emergency landings. A Japanese submarine stood nearby to pick up downed pilots. The three Zeros circled low over the green, treeless island. At a level, grassy valley floor half a mile inland, Koga lowered his wheels and flaps and eased toward a three-point landing. As his main wheels touched, they dug in, and the Zero flipped onto its back, tossing water, grass, and gobs of mud. The valley floor was a bog, and the knee-high grass concealed water.Endo and Shikada circled. There was no sign of life. If Koga was dead, their duty was to destroy the downed fighter. Incendiary bullets from their machine guns would have done the job. But Koga was a friend, and they couldn't bring themselves to shoot. Perhaps he would recover, destroy the plane himself, and walk to the waiting submarine. Endo and Shikada abandoned the downed fighter and returned to the Ryujo, two hundred miles to the south. The Ryujo was sunk two months later in the eastern Solomons by planes from the aircraft carrier Saratoga . Endo was killed in action at Rabaul on October 12, 1943, while Shikada survived the war and eventually became a banker. The wrecked Zero lay in the bog for more than a month, unseen by U.S. patrol planes and offshore ships. Akutan is often foggy, and constant Aleutian winds create unpleasant turbulence over the rugged island. Most pilots preferred to remain over water, so planes rarely flew over Akutan. However, on July 10 a U.S. Navy Catalina (PBY) amphibian returning from overnight patrol crossed the island. A gunner named Wall called, "Hey, there's an airplane on the ground down there. It has meatballs on the wings". That meant the rising-sun insignia. The patrol plane's commander, Lt. William Thies, descended for a closer look. What he saw excited him. Back at Dutch Harbor, Thies persuaded his squadron commander to let him take a party to the downed plane. No one then knew that it was a Zero. Ens. Robert Larson was Thies's copilot when the plane was discovered. He remembers reaching the Zero. "We approached cautiously, walking in about a foot of water covered with grass. Koga's body, thoroughly strapped in, was upside down in the plane, his head barely submerged in the water. "We were surprised at the details of the airplane," Larson continues. "It was well built, with simple, unique features. Inspection plates could be opened by pushing on a black dot with a finger. A latch would open, and one could pull the plate out. Wingtips folded by unlatching them and pushing them up by hand. The pilot had a parachute and a life raft." Koga's body was buried nearby. In 1947 it was shifted to a cemetery on nearby Adak Island, and later, it is believed, his remains were returned to Japan .Thies had determined that the wrecked plane was a nearly new Zero, which suddenly gave it special meaning, for it was repairable. However, unlike U.S. warplanes, which had detachable wings, the Zero's wings were integral with the fuselage. This complicated salvage and shipping. Navy crews fought the plane out of the bog. The tripod that was used to lift the engine, and later the fuselage, sank three to four feet into the mud. The Zero was too heavy to turn over with the equipment on hand, so it was left upside down while a tractor dragged it on a skid to the beach and a barge. At Dutch Harbor it was turned over with a crane, cleaned, and crated, wings and all. When the awkward crate containing Zero 4593 arrived at North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, a twelve-foot-high stockade was erected around it inside a hangar. Marines guarded the priceless plane while Navy crews worked around the clock to make it airworthy. (There is no evidence the Japanese ever knew we had salvaged Koga's plane.) In mid-September Lt. Cmdr Eddie R. Sanders studied it for a week as repairs were completed. Forty-six years later he clearly remembered his flights in Koga's Zero. "My log shows that I made twenty-four flights in Zero 4593 from 20 September to 15 October 1942," Sanders told me. "These flights covered performance tests such as we do on planes undergoing Navy tests.""The very first flight exposed weaknesses of the Zero that our pilots could exploit with proper tactics. The Zero had superior maneuverability only at the lower speeds used in dog fighting, with short turning radius and excellent aileron control at very low speeds. However, immediately apparent was the fact that the ailerons froze up at speeds above two hundred knots, so that rolling maneuvers at those speeds were slow and required much force on the control stick. It rolled to the left much easier than to the right. Also, its engine cut out under negative acceleration [as when nosing into a dive] due to its float-type carburetor. We now had an answer for our pilots who were unable to escape a pursuing Zero. We told them to go into a vertical power dive, using negative acceleration, if possible, to open the range quickly and gain advantageous speed while the Zero's engine was stopped. At about two hundred knots, we instructed them to roll hard right before the Zero pilot could get his sights lined up. This recommended tactic was radioed to the fleet after my first flight of Koga's plane, and soon the welcome answer came back: "It works!'" Sanders said, satisfaction sounding in his voice even after nearly half a century. Thus by late September 1942 Allied pilots in the Pacific theater knew how to escape a pursuing Zero. "Was Zero 4593 a good representative of the Model 21 Zero?" I asked Sanders. In other words, was the repaired airplane 100 percent? "About 98 percent," he replied. The Zero was added to the U.S. Navy inventory and assigned its Mitsubishi serial number. The Japanese colors and insignia were replaced with those of the U.S. Navy and later the U.S. Army, which also test-flew it. The Navy pitted it against the best American fighters of the time-the P-38 Lockheed Lightning, the P-39 Bell Airacobra, the P-51 North American Mustang, the F-4 Grumman Wildcat, and the F4U Chance Vought Corsair-and for each type developed the most effective tactics and altitudes for engaging the Zero. In February 1945 Cmdr. Richard G. Crommelin was taxiing Zero 4593 at San Diego Naval Air Station, where it was being used to train pilots bound for the Pacific war zone. An SB-2C Curtiss Helldiver overran it and chopped it up from tail to cockpit. Crommelin survived, but the Zero didn't. Only a few pieces of Zero 4593 remain today. The manifold pressure gauge, the air-speed indicator, and the folding panel of the port wingtip were donated to the Navy Museum at the Washington , D.C., Navy Yard by Rear Adm. William N. Leonard, who salvaged them at San Diego in 1945. In addition, two of its manufacturer's plates are in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage, donated by Arthur Bauman, the photographer. Leonard recently told me, "The captured Zero was a treasure. To my knowledge no other captured machine has ever unlocked so many secrets at a time when the need was so great". A somewhat comparable event took place off North Africa in 1944-coincidentally on the same date, June 4, that Koga crashed his Zero.A squadron commanded by Capt. Daniel V. Gallery, aboard the escort carrier Guadalcanal , captured the German submarine U-505, boarding and securing the disabled vessel before the fleeing crew could scuttle it. Code books, charts, and operating instructions rescued from U-505 proved quite valuable to the Allies. Captain Gallery later wrote, "Reception committees which we were able to arrange as a result may have had something to do with the sinking of nearly three hundred U-boats in the next eleven months", By the time of U-505's capture, however, the German war effort was already starting to crumble (D-day came only two days later), while Japan still dominated the Pacific when Koga's plane was recovered. A classic example of the Koga plane's value occurred on April 1, 1943, when Ken Walsh, a Marine flying an F4U Chance-Vought Corsair over the Russell Islands southeast of Bougainville , encountered a lone Zero. "I turned toward him, planning a deflection shot, but before I could get on him, he rolled, putting his plane right under my tail and within range. I had been told the Zero was extremely maneuverable, but if I hadn't seen how swiftly his plane flipped onto my tail, I wouldn't have believed it," Walsh recently recalled. "I remembered briefings that resulted from test flights of Koga's Zero on how to escape from a following Zero. With that lone Zero on my tail I did a split S, and with its nose down and full throttle my Corsair picked up speed fast .I wanted at least 240 knots, preferably 260. Then, as prescribed, I rolled hard right. As I did this and continued my dive, tracers from the Zero zinged past my plane's belly. "From information that came from Koga's Zero, I knew the Zero rolled more slowly to the right than to the left. If I hadn't known which way to turn or roll, I'd have probably rolled to my left. If I had done that, the Zero would likely have turned with me, locked on, and had me. I used that maneuver a number of times to get away from Zeros". By war's end Capt. (later Lt. Col.) Kenneth Walsh had twenty-one aerial victories (seventeen Zeros, three Vals, one Pete), making him the war's fourth-ranking Marine Corps ace. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for two extremely courageous air battles he fought over the Solomon Islands in his Corsair during August 1943. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1962 after more than twenty-eight years of service. Walsh holds the Distinguished Flying Cross with six Gold Stars, the Air Medal with fourteen Gold Stars, and more than a dozen other medals and honors. How important was our acquisition of Koga's Zero? Masatake Okumiya, who survived more air-sea battles than any other Japanese naval officer, was aboard the Ryujo when Koga made his last flight. He later co-authored two classic books, Zero and Midway. Okumiya has written that the Allies' acquisition of Koga's Zero was "no less serious" than the Japanese defeat at Midway and "did much to hasten our final defeat." If that doesn't convince you, ask Ken Walsh. INSIDE THE ZERO The Zero was Japan 's main fighter plane throughout World War II. By war's end about 11,500 Zeros had been produced in five main variants. In March 1939, when the prototype Zero was rolled out, Japan was in some ways still so backward that the plane had to be hauled by oxcart from the Mitsubishi factory twenty-nine miles to the airfield where it flew. It represented a great leap in technology. At the start of World War II, some countries' fighters were open cockpit, fabric-covered biplanes. A low-wing all-metal monoplane carrier fighter, predecessor to the Zero, had been adopted by the Japanese in the mid-1930's, while the U.S Navy's standard fighter was still a biplane. But the world took little notice of Japan's advanced military aircraft, so the Zero came as a great shock to Americans at Pearl Harbor and afterward. A combination of nimbleness and simplicity gave it fighting qualities that no Allied plane could match. Lightness, simplicity, ease of maintenance, sensitivity to controls, and extreme maneuverability were the main elements that the designer Jiro Horikoshi built into the Zero. The Model 21 flown by Koga weighed 5,500 pounds, including fuel, ammunition, and pilot, while U.S. fighters weighed 7,500 pounds and up. Early models had no protective armor or self-sealing fuel tanks, although these were standard features on U.S. fighters. Despite its large-diameter 940-hp radial engine, the Zero had one of the slimmest silhouettes of any World War II fighter. The maximum speed of Koga's Zero was 326 mph at 16,000 feet, not especially fast for a 1942 fighter. But high speed wasn't the reason for the Zero's great combat record. Agility was. Its large ailerons gave it great maneuverability at low speeds. It could even outmaneuver the British Spitfire. Advanced U.S. fighters produced toward the war's end still couldn't turn with the Zero, but they were faster and could out climb and out dive it. Without self-sealing fuel tanks, the Zero was easily flamed when hit in any of its three wing and fuselage tanks or its droppable belly tank. And without protective armor, its pilot was vulnerable. In 1941 the Zero's range of 1,675 nautical miles (1,930 statute miles) was one of the wonders of the aviation world. No other fighter plane had ever routinely flown such a distance. Saburo Sakai, Japan's highest-scoring surviving World War II ace, with sixty- four kills, believes that if the Zero had not been developed, Japan "would not have decided to start the war". Other Japanese authorities echo this opinion, and the confidence it reflects was not, in the beginning at least, misplaced. Today the Zero is one of the rarest of all major fighter planes of World War II. Only sixteen complete and assembled examples are known to exist. Of these, only two are flyable: one owned by Planes of Fame, in Chino, California, and the other by the Commemorative Air Force, in Midland, Texas .
Zero/Zero by Charles Svoboda
It happened sometime in 1965, in Germany . I was a copilot, so I knew, everything there was to know about flying, and I was frustrated by pilots like my aircraft commander. He was one of those by-the-numbers types, no class, no imagination, no "feel" for flying. You have to be able to feel an airplane. So what if your altitude is a little off, or if the glideslope indicator is off a hair? If it feels okay then it is okay. That's what I believed.Every time he let me make an approach, even in VFR conditions, he demanded perfection. Not the slightest deviation was permitted. "If you can't do it when there is no pressure, you surely can't do it when the pucker factor increases," he would say. When he shot an approach, it was as if all the instruments were frozen - perfection, but no class.Then came that routine flight from the Azores to Germany .. The weather was okay; we had 45,000 pounds of fuel and enough cargo to bring the weight of our C-124 Globemaster up to 180,000 pounds, 5,000 pounds below the max allowable. It would be an easy, routine flight all the way.Halfway to the European mainland, the weather started getting bad. I kept getting updates by high frequency radio. Our destination, a fighter base, went zero/zero. Our two alternates followed shortly thereafter. All of France was down. We held for two hours, and the weather got worse. Somewhere I heard a fighter pilot declare an emergency because of minimum fuel. He shot two approaches and saw nothing. On the third try, he flamed out and had to eject.Flight Engineer Panel C-124
We made a precision radar approach; there was nothing but fuzzy fog at minimums. The sun was setting. Now I started to sweat a little. I turned on the instrument lights. When I looked out to where the wings should be, I couldn't even see the navigation lights 85 feet from my eyes. I could barely make out a dull glow from the exhaust stacks of the closest engine, and then only on climb power.When we reduced power to maximum endurance, that friendly glow faded. The pilot asked the engineer where we stood on fuel. The reply was, "I don't know--- we're so low that the book says the gauges are unreliable below this point. The navigator became a little frantic. We didn't carry parachutes on regular MAC flights, so we couldn't follow the fighter pilot's example. We would land or crash with the airplane.The pilot then asked me which of the two nearby fighter bases had the widest runway. I looked it up and we declared an emergency as we headed for that field.The pilot then began his briefing. "This will be for real. No missed approach. We'll make an ILS and get precision radar to keep us honest. Copilot, we'll use half flaps. That'll put the approach speed a little higher, but the pitch angle will be almost level, requiring less attitude change in the flare."Why hadn't I thought of that? Where was my "feel" and "class" now? The briefing continued, "I'll lock on the gauges. You get ready to take over and complete the landing if you see the runway - that way there will be less room for trouble with me trying to transition from instruments to visual with only a second or two before touchdown."Hey, he's even going to take advantage of his copilot, I thought. He's not so stupid, after all. "Until we get the runway, you call off every 100 feet above touchdown; until we get down to 100 feet, use the pressure altimeter. Then switch to the radar altimeter for the last 100 feet, and call off every 25 feet. Keep me honest on the airspeed, also. Engineer, when we touch down, I'll cut the mixtures with the master control lever, and you cut all of the mags. Are there any questions? Let's go!"All of a sudden, this unfeeling, by the numbers robot was making a lot of sense. Maybe he really was a pilot and maybe I had something more to learn about flying. We made a short procedure turn to save gas. Radar helped us to get to the outer marker. Half a mile away, we performed the Before Landing Checklist; gear down, flaps 20 degrees. The course deviation indicator was locked in the middle, with the glide slope indicator beginning its trip down from the top of the case.When the GSI centered, the pilot called for a small power reduction, lowered the nose slightly, and all of the instruments, except the altimeter, froze.My Lord, that man had a feel for that airplane! He thought something, and the airplane, all 135,000 pounds of it, did what he thought. "Five hundred feet," I called out, "400 feet ... 300 feet … 200 feet, MATS minimums … 100 feet, Air Force minimums; I'm switching to the radar altimeter … 75 feet nothing in sight .... 50 feet, still nothing … 25 feet, airspeed 100 knots."The nose of the aircraft rotated just a couple of degrees, and the airspeed started down. The pilot then casually said, "Hang on, we're landing." "Airspeed 90 knots….10 feet, here we go!" The pilot reached up and cut the mixtures with the master control lever, without taking his eyes off the instruments. He told the engineer to cut all the mags to reduce the chance of fire.CONTACT! I could barely feel it. As smooth a landing as I have ever known, and I couldn't even tell if we were on the runway, because we could only see the occasional blur of a light streaking by. "Copilot, verify hydraulic boost is on, I'll need it for brakes and steering." I complied. "Hydraulic boost pump is on, pressure is up." The brakes came on slowly---we didn't want to skid this big beast now. I looked over at the pilot. He was still on the instruments, steering to keep the course deviation indicator in the center, and that is exactly where it stayed."Airspeed, 50 knots." We might make it yet. "Airspeed, 25 knots." We'll make it if we don't run off a cliff. Then I heard a strange sound. I could hear the whir of the gyros, the buzz of the inverters, and a low frequency thumping. Nothing else. The thumping was my pulse, and I couldn't hear anyone breathing. We had made it! We were standing still!The aircraft commander was still all pilot. "After-landing checklist, get all those motors, radar and un-necessary radios off while we still have batteries. Copilot, tell them that we have arrived, to send a follow me truck out to the runway because we can't even see the edges." I left the VHF on and thanked GCA for the approach.The guys in the tower didn't believe we were there. They had walked outside and couldn't hear or see anything. We assured them that we were there, somewhere on the localizer centerline, with about half a mile showing on the DME. We waited about 20 minutes for the truck. Not being in our customary hurry, just getting our breath back and letting our pulses diminish to a reasonable rate.Then I felt it. The cockpit shuddered as if the nose gear had run over a bump. I told the loadmaster to go out the crew entrance to see what happened. He dropped the door (which is immediately in front of the nose gear), and it hit something with a loud, metallic bang. He came on the interphone and said "Sir, you'll never believe this. The follow-me truck couldn't see us and ran smack into our nose tire with his bumper, but he bounced off, and nothing is hurt."The pilot then told the tower that we were parking the bird right where it was and that we would come in via the truck. It took a few minutes to get our clothing and to button up the airplane. I climbed out and saw the nose tires straddling the runway centerline. A few feet away was the truck with its embarrassed driver.Total damage---one dent in the hood of the follow me truck where the hatch had opened onto it. Then I remembered the story from Fate Is the Hunter. When Gann was an airline copilot making a simple night range approach, his captain kept lighting matches in front of his eyes. It scarred and infuriated Gann. When they landed, the captain said that Gann was ready to upgrade to captain. If he could handle a night-range approach with all of that harassment, then he could handle anything.At last I understood what true professionalism is. Being a pilot isn't all seat-of-the-pants flying and glory. It's self- discipline, practice, study, analysis and preparation. It's precision. If you can't keep the gauges where you want them with everything free and easy, how can you keep them there when everything goes wrong?
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